While there's a lot to see and do in Manchester, visitors to the British city may also want to explore the surrounding area. Manchester is just a short distance from many of England's best sights like the historic towns or York and Chester or the lush Lake District. Consider renting a car to better explore the towns and green moors, or take advantage of the expansive train network to get from the heart of Manchester into the countryside with little hassle. From Liverpool to Delamere Forest, here are 10 of the best day trips from Manchester.
Liverpool: Birthplace of the Beatles
The port city of Liverpool, known as the birthplace of the Beatles, makes a great day trip from Manchester. Embark on a Beatles tour to see the famous Cavern Club or go to a soccer game at Anfield Stadium, or explore Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, a historical area that's home to the Tate Liverpool and the Beatles Museum. Consider staying for the evening to enjoy Liverpool's lively nightlife, which boasts lots of great restaurants, bars and clubs.
Getting There: Liverpool is a one-hour drive west from Manchester, but travelers can also take a quick train from Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool Lime Street. Trains run several times per hour and are reasonably priced, making it a good option for those without a car or who don't want to deal with parking.
Travel Tip: For a different view of Liverpool, embark on a boat cruise of the city with Mersey Ferries, which sails by all of the key sights.
Lake District: Mountain Hikes and Watersports
England's Lake District is a must-see destination for any traveler, but especially for those who love the great outdoors. It's best to pick a single hike or destination if you only have a day there, so consider starting in Kendal or Derwentwater. Hiking, biking, boating, and scenic walks are the most popular things to do, and the area is notably family friendly. On a sunny day, embark on a boat cruise, which are available on several lakes, including Windermere, Coniston, Derwentwater, and Ullswater.
Getting There: The Lake District is best seen with a car and the area is an easy hour and a half drive north from Manchester. It's possible to take a train to Windermere, but there's not much public transportation available once you're in the Lake District itself.
Travel Tip: The Lake District runs guided walks between April and October, led by volunteers, which visitors can join to learn more about the area.
York: Walk the Roman Walls
The walled city of York dates back to the Roman Empire, although its most famous site is the 13th-century Gothic cathedral, the York Minster. York is great for history lovers, especially since you can still stroll along the ancient city walls. Don't miss the Shambles, a narrow historic street that looks like something out of Harry Potter, and the York Castle Museum. There's also lots of shopping throughout town, as well as historic pubs and cafes that overlook the Ouse river. If you're feeling particularly spry, climb the 275 steps to the peak of the York Minster's central tower to take in the views.
Getting There: Drive an hour and a half northeast past Leeds to find York, or hop on a train from Manchester Victoria to York. The York train station is walking distance from the central of town and trains run frequently.
Travel Tip: York is very popular with tourists, so consider visiting during the week rather than on a weekend and avoid holidays.
Chester: Traditional English Town
Originally founded as a Roman fortress in the 1st century A.D., Chester is one of those picturesque English towns that feels like something out of the movies. It's known for its Tudor-style buildings and cobbled streets, but remains of the old Roman wall surround the town and there's a Roman amphitheater nearby. Don't miss Chester Cathedral, the Chester Rows and the Grosvenor Museum, which displays Roman artifacts.
Getting There: Drive west to Chester (about an hour and 15 minutes) or take a direct train from Manchester to Chester Station. The trains run from both Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly, and take a little over an hour, running frequently throughout the day.
Travel Tip: Extend your experience with a visit to Beeston Castle, an English Heritage Site built in the 1220s. It's situated on a cliff a short drive outside Chester and the views are unparalleled.
Chatsworth House and Gardens: Explore English History
Chatsworth House, found in the Peak District, is one of England's most famous historic homes, known in part for its scenic gardens. The house is the current home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and it has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. Visitors can tour the rooms, which showcase an expansive collection of art, before exploring the 105-acre Chatsworth Garden, which includes a greenhouse belonging to the first Duke of Devonshire. Chatsworth House also has several restaurants, including one that serves afternoon tea, plus a farm shop and takeaway picnics to enjoy on the grounds.
Getting There: It's easiest to drive an hour and a half southwest to find Chatsworth House, although intrepid travelers can also opt for public transportation. Those without a car should take a train from Manchester to Sheffield and then take a 25-minute bus ride to Chatsworth House.
Travel Tip: Book tickets online in advance before visiting the house, particularly when planning a visit on a weekend or holiday.
Yorkshire Dales National Park: Hikes, Waterfalls, and More
It would be hard to see all of the expansive Yorkshire Dales National Park in a day, but travelers can get a glimpse of the area, which includes vast moors, quaint villages and green hills, on a day trip. Create an itinerary with some of the highlights of the park, including Bolton Abbey Estate, Aysgarth Falls, and the Dales Countryside Museum. Those who like to hike should plan to ascend of the Three Peaks, or you can take in the sights along one of the park's many cycling routes.
Getting There: Yorkshire Dales National Park is best experienced by car. The area is about an hour and a half drive south from Manchester, depending on which part you plan to visit.
Travel Tip: There's a lot to see and do, so consider starting at the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre or the Malham National Park Centre to get your bearings.
Delamere Forest is a large, leafy forest in Cheshire that's perfect for a day out in nature (and away from the crowds of tourists). There are three walking trails, two cycling trails and an adventure park called Go Ape!, which brings you up into the trees. Bring along a picnic and spend the day enjoying the outdoors with your friends or family.
Getting There: Drive an hour southwest from Manchester to find Delamere Forest, or take a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Delamere. Both options take about an hour. There are several parking lots available, each of which charges visitors a small fee.
Travel Tip: The facilities at Delamere Forest are limited, so bring any water and food you want to enjoy. There are toilets and a bike rental shop for those who need them.
Knowsley Safari: Lions, Rhinos, and Baboons
Venture to Merseyside to discover Knowsley Safari, a safari park that has been around for nearly 50 years. Visitors can embark on a 5-mile safari park drive, where you'll spot lions, wildebeest, camels, rhinos, and more. There are more than 750 animals in total, most of which roam free in the park. It's all done from your own vehicle, which means you can explore at your own pace with the help of a map and audio guide. If you prefer not to drive, hop on Baboon Bus, which takes you to see the animals throughout the park over the course of one to two hours.
Getting There: Because the safari park drive is best done from your own car driving is ideal (it's about 40 minutes), but those without a car can take a train to a bus and then purchase the Baboon Bus option on-site.
Travel Tip: It's highly recommended to buy tickets in advance online (there are often discounted available when you buy on the park's website). Parking is free, so save your extra cash for a souvenir.
Haworth: Birthplace of the Brontë Sisters
The town of Haworth, in West Yorkshire, is part of the Pennines. It has a cobbled main street and is home to the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which details the lives and careers of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. The town, which is filled with shops and restaurants, a great starting point for a walk around the South Pennine moors. Be sure to visit the Cliffe Castle Museum, former home of Victorian millionaire and textile manufacturer Henry Isaac Butterfield.
Getting There: Take a train to Leeds and transfer to a second train to Haworth, or drive north from Manchester (about an hour and 15 minutes). There is also a bus from Manchester that stops in Bradford, for those looking for a less expensive way to travel.
Travel Tip: Take the nearby Keighley & Worth Valley Railway stream train. It's a 5-mile-long heritage railway line with scenic views and an old-timey vibe.
Buxton: A Classic Spa Market Town
Found in the East Midlands, Buxton is known for its natural thermal hot springs and quaint market feel. Spas are popular thanks to the hot springs, so book into the Buxton Crescent Thermal Spa or the spa at the Palace Hotel to kick off your day trip. Buxton also boasts the historic Buxton Opera House, the famed Buxton Crescent, Solomon's Temple, and the Buxton Museum & Art Gallery. Many visitors also include a tour of Poole's Cavern, a carboniferous limestone cave supposedly once explored by Mary Queen of Scots, as part of their trip.
Getting There: Drive an hour south from Manchester, or book a train to directly to Buxton from Manchester Piccadilly.
Travel Tip: The Buxton town markets take place on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so plan your visit accordingly to enjoy the outdoor stalls, which open at 9 a.m.